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Lady Panther golf team takes second, boys take third at state

Tess Mitchell, a PHS senior, chips to the 18th green during Saturday action at the Class 3A State golf tournament. Mitchell took eighth place individually with rounds of 89 and 100. Tess Mitchell, a PHS senior, chips to the 18th green during Saturday action at the Class 3A State golf tournament. Mitchell took eighth place individually with rounds of 89 and 100. Tribune photo by CJ Baker

Four PHS golfers earn All State

There was plenty of hardware joining the Powell High School golf teams for their trip home from the Class 3A state tournament.



The PHS girls earned runners-up honors in Worland, while the boys finished third after being edged out for second.

It was the first time in PHS head coach Troy Hildebrand’s 12 years that both teams brought home a state trophy.

Individually, seniors Alyssa Hildebrand and Bowen Prestwich each took fourth place honors on the girls and boys sides, respectively, with Hildebrand’s finish in a tie. Also earning All State honors were sophomore Pax Mitchell (who finished in a tie for sixth among the 61 boys) and senior Tess Mitchell (eighth outright for the girls).

Cody’s Fillies led Powell by five strokes after Friday’s play in Worland, then held PHS off with another good day on Saturday. Cody finished at 276-277=553, Powell at 281-297=578. Buffalo finished nine shots back of Powell in the field of eight full teams. Coach Hildebrand called Cody “a very deserving champion.”

As for his own squad, “I am extremely proud of these girls and how far they came from last year,” the coach said. “Winning a conference title and placing in the top three at every tournament as a team is a great season by anybody’s standards.”

Alyssa Hildebrand shot 88-93, wrapping up a steady senior campaign in which she earned top 10 honors in each tournament.

“I was very proud of how she battled through a very nerve wracking round on Saturday,” said Coach Hildebrand. “She had a tough start but did a great job of hanging in there to post a 93 that sealed our second place team finish for us.”

Tess Mitchell earned All State honors for the second year in a row by shooting 89-100.

“Tess had a couple of very rough holes on Saturday that cost her a few shots but she battled to the end of her round to hang onto a top 10 position,” said the coach. “She has been a great example of what the right attitude and a little hard work can help a player accomplish.”

Sophomore Mikala Fulton shot 104-105 in a consistent performance her coach praised.

“She has made enormous strides since last year and has all of the potential in the world to be competing for All-State honors next fall,” Coach Hildebrand said.

Sophomore Carli Brown shot a 111 on Friday, but bounced back with a 104 on Saturday.

“She has grown by leaps and bounds since last fall and I expect her to be right in the mix for All-State honors in 2013,” Coach Hildebrand said. “She does a great job of working hard to get the best out of each round no matter how it is going for her.”

The coach said Alyssa Hildebrand and Tess Mitchell have been great senior leaders, who will be tough to lose, “but I know that Carli and Mikala are ready to take over that role and keep us on the road we are on.”

The squad will be looking for a couple more young ladies next year.

Sarah Schroefel of Worland took full advantage of her home turf to shoot 81-87 and win the individual title. Schroefel was eight clear of defending champion Sydney Gunn of Cody (87-89) in the 39-girl field.

On the boys side, Jackson cleared the field of 12 full teams with a two-day total of 627 — 41 strokes better than runner-up Lander.

“Looking at the entire season it was going to be very difficult for any team to catch Jackson this weekend and that proved to be true,” said Hildebrand.

The Powell boys, locked in a tie with Lander at 340 after day one, improved their scores on day two. Unfortunately, so did Lander. PHS shaved 10 strokes from its Friday tally, but Lander’s Tigers knocked off an even dozen on Saturday to take the silver by two strokes.

“It would have been nice to find a couple more strokes to sneak into second but that’s the way golf always seems to wind up,” said Coach Hildebrand, adding that, “This is one of the teams that I am the most proud of in my 12 years as the golf coach.”

He said everyone outside of Prestwich and Mitchell needed to adjust to new roles this season, and “I feel like they maximized the season that they had in every way possible.”

“Cameron Nielson came through in every way for us and was nearly 10 strokes a round better than a year ago, Jared Wantulok gave us a number of rounds in the low 80’s and Zach Kienlen and Dillon Nix stepped into that fifth spot and each gave us some quality rounds throughout the year,” said the coach.

Prestwich closed out his PHS career with a 78-77 showing, wrapping up an impressive stretch of 14 consecutive rounds at 78 or better.

“Bowen has been an incredible asset and leader to our program for four years and the growth he has made is nearly unprecedented,” said Coach Hildebrand. “As a freshman he barely made the state travel team and he now finishes with back to back All-Conference and All-State awards for us. He will be sorely missed but the work he has put in will leave a lasting impression on our program for the future.”

Mitchell, a sophomore, had another strong week by shooting 79-80.

“With two All-Conference and two All-State awards already it is obvious that Pax will be a very key component to where we go in the next two years,” said the coach, adding, “I feel like Pax’s best golf is ahead of him and I know he will be a great leader for us in 2013.”

Nielson, a senior, closed out his final season by shooting 84-85. That included playing his final seven holes at even par on Friday.

“That is a sign of tremendous growth and determination for him,” said Coach Hildebrand, adding, “He has been a bright spot all year and I was very happy that he was able to have such a strong finish to his career as a Panther.”

After a rough 99 on Friday, junior Jared Wantulok rebounded with a strong closing nine holes on Saturday — including canning a 35-foot putt from off the 18th green — for an 88.

“I’d like to think that will be a nice springboard to this spring and next fall when he moves into a senior leadership role for us,” said Hildebrand. “Jared has a ton of ability and I expect some great things from him next fall.”

Zach Kienlen shot 101, then posted a solid 90.

“Zach has come so far since his freshman year that I can’t even really describe it,” said Coach Hildebrand, adding, “The growth that he has shown in his golf game is phenomenal and I was pleased to have him with us this year and have him make positive contributions to our team.”

With the loss of Prestwich, Nielson and Kienlen, Hildebrand noted the team will have a new look next year.

Pinedale’s Jordan Costello shot 76-71 to take the Class 3A State Championship, beating Jackson’s Mitch Ellingson (73-76).

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